So this book was my pick for the book group I’m part of and I am so glad I picked it! However, the whole reason that I did pick it was because it was a book that I needed motivation to actually pick up and read. It is very much out of my usual comfort zone and, not only that, it’s a book that has been hyped a lot.
This book is beautiful. It is a book that is built on imagery – both literal and metaphorical. Within the very physical imagery of 1940s Germany and occupied France is the woven scientific and philosophical imagery about light, seeing and not seeing and the differences. It does get dense but, honestly, it was just so beautiful that often I went back to read things twice to make sense or just put it down for a moment and tried again because every word of this book was worth reading.
Underneath all of the beauty is, however, a story of war and childhoods torn apart by it. We have Marie-Laure, a Parisian by birth who has been blind since the age of six and has grown up under the nurturing hand of her father and we have Werner, a German orphan who ends up in the centre of Hitler Youth. The two strands of the story eventually intertwine, albeit briefly and it is just a sad, but beautiful, look at their lives through the period of the war and somewhat beyond.
This book was vivid. I think part of that is due to the fact it was told through vignettes opposed to heavy chapters, it was somewhat disordered yet perfectly ordered at the same time. I could taste the sea, I could walk around Paris, I was so in this book that I lost 3 hours of my Sunday afternoon finishing it and I felt like I was there. When I finished I felt somewhat bereft…
It’s hard to give a book like this a rating. My gut instinct was 4 but, actually, I think this is better than that and I honestly think it may creep up to a 5/5!